Welcome back, food lovers! After taking a few weeks hiatus (I was exhausted after a week of three funerals in a row, and was just really lazy in getting around to posting this), I’m finally reviewing the Estonian Cranberry and Apple Soup I promised you from The Food and Cooking of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania cookbook by Silvena Johan Lauta that I promised a few weeks back.
First of all, the cookbook is gorgeous. The photographs (by Martin Brigdale) are both beautiful and enticing (although when is professional food photography not enticing…?). The book gives you some historical and cultural background to the Baltic region in general, as well as some background specific to each country. My one complaint is that there aren’t actually a whole lot of Latvian recipes in the book, which is frustrating. Nicole’s dad’s family is Latvian, and exploring the culture through food has been one of the ways we’ve found to connect her to her cultural roots. (It is actually surprisingly hard to find Latvian cookbooks. There is supposedly a fantastic book called Latvian Cooking put out by the Latvian Ladies Auxiliary group of Ontario, but I haven’t been able to get my hands on it.)
Anyway, because we had about ten pounds of local cranberries in our freezer (we bought a massive bag at Thanksgiving) we decided to try the Cranberry and Apple Soup. I’d never made or eaten fruit soup before, and was game to try. Here’s how it went:
5 1/4 cups cranberries
scant cup of water
115 g of caster (superfine sugar) * we used honey
350 g of cooking apples, peeled and finely grated
1 tbsp of cornflower *we omitted this
*Because I didn’t really feel like making an insane amount of cranberry soup that I wasn’t sure if we’d like or not, I halved the recipe.
- Put the cranberries in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the cranberries are soft. Allow to cool a little.
- Transfer the cranberries and liquid to a food processor or blender and pulse to a puree. Pass through a sieve, pressing down with the back of a spoon to get as much fruit as possible.
3. Discard the fruit pulp and keep the strained fruit and juices, Add the sugar, put back in the pan and gently bring back to simmer. *we opted for honey rather than sugar because we didn’t have caster sugar, and we figured it would be equally authentic.
4. Add the grated apples to the cranberry mixture. Mix the cornflour with 30 t tbsp of water to make a smooth paste, then stir into the soup *We skipped this bit because, honestly, the soup was already so thick, we couldn’t imagine eating something even thicker. Simmer, stirring for 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then transfer to a bowl and chill. Ladle the cold soup into bowls and serve with a dollop of sour cream, swirled with a skewer to decorate.
So, what did we think of it? Well, Nicole gave it somewhere in the realm of an 8/10 (meaning she’d love to eat this soup again and again and again). I was less impressed…only because I was so confused! I mean, is this dessert? Is this a palate cleanser like sorbet? What is this? That’s what my mouth kept saying to me. So, I gave it a 4/10, not because of the taste so much as the absolute confusion (in fact, I froze the rest of mine because I thought maybe I would like it better like ice cream…no such luck!). Granted, we probably shouldn’t have eaten it as a main course…the cookbook gave no pairing suggestions with the soup, but I can imagine it would have been good in very small servings as a starter course, or as I’ve already said, as a “dessert soup”. I would make it again if we were going to have a fancy Christmas dinner sometime.
What do you do with your fruit soups? First course? Dessert course? Other courses? Suggested pairings?
Since we made this soup, we’ve had some other adventures in soup making that haven’t been recorded, such as a made-up Moroccan Lentil soup that was sooooo good I could have eaten it everyday (in fact, I ate it 3 days in a row), and today we made a lovely pumpkin and basmati rice soup from the New Soup Cookbook I wrote about in my last blog. It had the perfect blend of flavours–cardamon, cinnamon, and cayenne. Mmmm mmm, good.
Anyway, with the start of December also comes the beginning of holiday cooking and baking. Stay tuned throughout December–this Friday, for example, Nicole and I are making a delicious recipe of Norwegian beer-braised pork belly from the magazine bon appetite December 2014 edition, along with lefse (oh, how my little Scandinavian heart beats in love!) for her birthday supper. And then we’re going to Sugar Moon’s Dec. 6th Chef’s night (which I hope we’ll review here in the coming week). So, lots of exciting things to come!
Until then, happy eating!